This is a brilliant recipe in order to make your gherkins last longer and, dare I say, taste better and crunchier.
Fermented gherkins is a staple summer food in summer in Lithuania. Everyone has got some growing in their gardens and greenhouses. Some people like them quite sour and so they ferment them for longer. I prefer a lightly fermented gherkin that's still a bit green ( the longer you ferment them, the more yellow they will get). For me it's the perfect balance between the flavour of the original unfermented gherkin and the one that's sour and fermented. That usually takes around 2-4 days.
The nice thing about fermenting as opposed to pickling in vinegar, there is just salt, water and herbs involved. You submerge cucumbers into a water and salt brine and wait for good fermenting bacteria to do its work. It is an anaerobic process, so you need to make sure that everything is submerged into the brine.
As with most fermentation you need to watch out for the bubbles at the top of the jar. Once it starts bubbling, fermenting is taking place, and you can start tasting your gherkins.
In summer months it may take about 3-4 days for a quick fermentation. You can keep it on the counter for up to two of weeks or so. After that you can move the jar into the fridge to slow down and prolong the process. In that way cucumbers will last longer.
At least 2-3 Litre jar or a crock (of any size)
Any amount of gherkins
Handful of garlic cloves
Salt (2tbsp of salt per 1 litre of water)
It's best to use freshly harvested cucumbers/gherkins as that will guarantee successful fermentation and crunchiness of cucumbers. Also you will be suing them whole, so they have to be quite small in order to fit into a jar or a crock.
You can use all of the leaves and herbs listed above, or just some of them. Cucumbers will ferment with just salt and water, but all the extra bits will add more flavours.
Wash cucumbers. Layer the bottom of the jar or crock with some leaves and garlic, then add some gherkins, then another layer of leaves and garlic, and then gherkins till the jar is full.
For a 3 litre jar you would need around 2 litres of water and 4-5 tbsp of salt. Mix water and salt, and pour it over the jar contents. Put a big leave (such as horseradish) on top to push it all down so that it is submerged under the brine. Put the lid on. Leave it on the counter for 2-3 days till you see bubbles coming. Then you can start tasting and see if you like the flavour or would like it more sour. I keep mine on the counter for up to 2 weeks. Then I put a jar in a fridge, or drain the cucumbers and put them in the box in the fridge. The fermented brine, herbs and garlics are brilliant for making stews or soups. Enjoy!
Vaida is food coordinator at Global Gardens and a food blogger at onesmallspoon.com